“confirming” the intelligence on Iraqi mobile biological agent production facilities received from the liaison service. Contrary to the JIC view at the time, we believe that this report
would have been more accurately described as “confirming”, it4.
“complementary” to, rather than
The JIC made clear that much of the assessment was based on its own judgement, drawing on the work done for its assessment of 21 August. But we were struck by the relative thinness of the intelligence base supporting the greater firmness of the JIC’s judgements on Iraqi production and possession of chemical and biological weapons, especially the inferential nature of much of it. We also noted that the JIC did not reflect in its assessment, even if only to dismiss it, material in one of those reports suggesting that most members of the Iraqi leadership were not convinced that it would be possible to use chemical and biological weapons.
One further intelligence report which has been described to us as being significant was received between the production of the JIC’s assessment of 9 September and the publication of the Government’s dossier. This source5 reported that production of biological and chemical agent had been accelerated by the Iraqi regime, including through the building of further facilities throughout Iraq.
By mid-September 2002, therefore, readers of JIC assessments will have had an impression of continuity with, but also some change from, the JIC assessment of 15 March:
The continuing clear strategic intent on the part of the Iraqi regime to pursue its nuclear, biological, chemical and ballistic missile programmes.
Continuing efforts by the Iraqi regime to sustain and where possible develop its indigenous capabilities.
The apparent considerable development, drawing on these capabilities, of Iraq’s ‘break-out’ potential. Although Iraq’s nuclear programme continued to be constrained, there was strong evidence of continuing work on ballistic missiles, including the development and production of systems with ranges in excess of limits set by the United Nations. There was also evidence from one source, supported by one complementary report, of Iraq having the ability to produce biological agent in mobile facilities, and additional evidence of activity at one site formerly associated with Iraq’s biological warfare programme. Finally, there were recent intelligence reports, albeit mainly inferential, that Iraq was producing chemical agent. For analysts, intelligence on Iraqi production of biological and chemical agent would have been put alongside Iraq’s proven ability to weaponise agent onto at least some delivery systems, and separate intelligence reports on Saddam Hussein’s intention to use chemical and biological weapons if attacked.
Chapter 1 sets out our view of the difference. Reporting from this source was withdrawn by SIS in July 2003 as being unreliable. See Section 5.9.